Music Interviews

Interview: The Departure

The Departure are a new guitar band from Northampton who have been tipped for big things this year.

Formed through a mutual love of classic rock bands such as U2, The Smiths, Blur and Radiohead, their debut album is set for release in mid June.

musicOMH found lead singer David Jones and bassist Ben Winton in chatty and jovial mood just before a recent performance in Nottingham…
I start by asking how this band originally came together only a year and a half ago. “We got together in January 2004, me and Sam (Harvey, lead guitar) were the nucleus of the group. We were just working on some songs, we didn’t have a band. Ben came along and wrote a bass line for one of the songs we were working on and we really liked it. I’d already been in a band with him and been to school with him and we’d had a musical relationship for a few years, so it kind of worked. Lee (Irons, rhythm guitar) came along because we wanted to fatten the sound out, we wanted another guitar to add some interest. Andy (Hobson, drums) was the last one to come along – we found him on a website, because we were looking for drummers and auditioning loads,” explains David.

“The way bands like Blur and Radiohead have been able to grow creatively throughout their career just seemed really appealing”
– Ben Winton on the band’s decision to sign to Parlophone…

Before they knew it, they were signed to Parlophone, which raised much cynicism in the music industry – detractors were claiming that they were a manufactured group.

David insists otherwise, nonchalantly brushing off such accusations: “We got quite a lot of interest, we just went with them because we loved all the bands on the label,” he recalls.

“The way bands like Blur and Radiohead have been able to grow creatively throughout their career just seemed really appealing,” adds Ben.

Although a five piece, the band are able to cite three common albums as major inspirations – The Smiths’ Meat Is Murder, U2‘s War and Violator by Depeche Mode. So are there any other bands that have influenced them? “Blur definitely…” remarks David. “Radiohead…” declares Ben.

“We take influences from all these alternative bands, and try and make it a little bit more accessible”
– The Departure: Bringing good music to the masses…

“Any band where it’s all about feeling and a lot of passion, just always breaking boundaries and not ever doing the same album twice – people who are always pushing themselves – David Bowie,” offers David after some thought.

“We all like loads of different stuff, our guitarist is quite into hardcore, but we try and bring loads of different things into it – we try not to settle on anything too obvious,” Ben explains.

Kylie! Kylie’s good” David adds rather enthusiastically. “We love listening to pop stuff as well as guitar stuff, and you can amalgamate the two,” he continues, as if to emphasise his band are far from a one dimensional outfit.

And it’s clear that The Departure’s music, despite drawing from a diverse range of influences, is very much their own. Every song on the album has its own distinct character and feel, something which sets them apart from a lot of bands out there at the moment. So how exactly would they describe this sound to someone that had never heard them?

“Sinister guitar pop!” David exclaims. “We take influences from all these alternative bands, and try and make it a little bit more accessible. We just do it in a room together, we don’t think about it – It’s not calculated, it’s not conscious,” he continues. “It’s just what happens when you write music together,” Ben confirms.

The band’s debut long player, Dirty Words, is out in mid June. Was there any reasoning behind this title?

“Basically a lot of the stuff on the album is stuff going on in my head that I wouldn’t normally say, so I guess I’m calling it Dirty Words because the lyrics are like my dirty words. I think everyone has this dark side and I’m just trying to get that across with the title really. It sounds quite sleazy, and it fits with the music,” David informs.

“It’s very real and honest – I haven’t really tried to be too contrived with it”
– David Jones speaks his mind on the album…

Indeed, a lot of the songs on the album speak of issues in our everyday lives that are often taboo subjects. “Dirty Words, the actual track, is about a couple of my friends who are on the dole and not going anywhere – just boredom, how everyday goes into one. It’s quite a romantic album, it’s quite a passionate album. A lot of the ideas for lyrics just came when I was walking down the street. It’s very real and honest – I haven’t really tried to be too contrived with it,” David explains.

Much has been made of the bands high profile support slots – did any band stick out as memorable touring partners?

Hot Hot Heat were quite cool,” says David. “I really enjoyed The Killers tour, probably because our first tour, they were just really nice guys – it makes a change!” Ben continues.

It certainly won’t be long till The Departure will be doing large scale tours on their own accord – their album is set to be one of the records of the year and will easily place them at the top table of intelligent rock bands such as The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and Bloc Party.

But they’re not about to start resting on any laurels – David reveals that they’ve already started thinking about a new record: “Hopefully we want to record the next album next January. We want it to be a more relaxed process this album. Depeche Mode – they always seem to be quite relaxed about the whole song writing thing, I think the last album was quite stressful for us. I think we need to chill out – we know we can write good songs, it’s just about experimenting with new sounds. I’m excited about it!” And so we should all be.

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More on The Departure
Interview: The Departure
The Departure – Dirty Words
The Departure @ Garage, London